6 ways to make positive habits stick

6 ways to make positive habits stick

Our mantra, here at The Happiness Institute, has (for almost two decades now) been…

…achieving happiness requires little more than practising a few simple disciplines, each and every day.

Happiness is, in other words, the result of consistency and discipline; happiness is, the result of building happy habits.

Along similar lines, this article provides 6 tips for setting up your positive program…

via the Ladders by Eric Barker

We all want to get to the gym, be more productive, be kinder to our loved ones… and then we don’t do it. Why?

Well, building solid personal habits can be hard. In fact, research shows it takes an average of 66 days to build a new good habit.

From Oliver Burkeman’s Help! How to be slightly happier and get a bit more done:

On average, her subjects, who were trying to learn new habits such as eating fruit daily or going jogging, took a depressing 66 days before reporting that the behavior had become unchangingly automatic.

But it doesn’t have to be that difficult. I’ve written before about the secret of how to break bad habits, so now let’s take a look at the scientific tricks to building good habits — and ones that stick.

For instance, wouldn’t it be nice if you could build three good habits for the price of one?

Actually, research says you can…

1) Start With “Keystone Habits”

Exercising isn’t just good for you. It’s also a “keystone habit.” It’s a good change that often triggers other good changes, passively.

When I spoke to Charles Duhigg, author of the excellent book “The Power of Habit“, he explained that exercise leads people to unknowingly create other, often unrelated, good habits.

It makes you eat better. And helps you use your credit card less. And makes you more productive at work. Here’s Charles:

There’s this fundamental finding in science that some habits seem to matter more than others. When researchers look at how people change their habitual behaviors, they find when some changes occur, it seems to set off a chain reaction that causes other patterns to change as well. For some people, exercise is a good example of this. When you start exercising habitually, according to studies, you start eating more healthfully. That makes sense. You start feeling good about your body. For many people, when they start exercising, they stop using their credit cards quite so often. They procrastinate less at work. They do their dishes earlier in the day. It seems to be evidence that for many people, exercise is a keystone habit. Once you start to change your exercise habits, it sets off a chain reaction that changes other habits as well.

So maybe you already exercise. Or perhaps committing to the gym seems too daunting right now. What are the other keystone habits? What alchemy do they all have in common?

Keystone habits change how you see yourself. And that’s what causes the cascade of positive change. Here’s Charles:

The power of a keystone habit draws from its ability to change your self image. Basically, anything can become a keystone habit if it has this power to make you see yourself in a different way.
So start with a habit that makes you see yourself as the kind of person you want to be.Never miss an article!Follow Ladders on Flipboard

(To learn how to end bad habits for good, click here.)

Okay, picking a habit that changes how you see yourself is like a “three-for-one” deal. That’s great. But making that one change can still be a lot of work, right?


2) Use “Minimum Viable Effort”

Want to floss more often? Okay, just floss one tooth. Sound silly? That’s fine.

Just like your mom told you: focus on baby steps.

It’s okay to be a little lazy at first. The key to new good habits is to do the minimum and be consistent.

BJ Fogg, head of the Stanford University Persuasive Tech Lab, calls it “Minimum Viable Effort.” Here’s what BJ says:

Make it tiny. To create a new habit, you must first simplify the behavior. Make it tiny, even ridiculous. A good tiny behavior is easy to do — and fast.

Do not be ambitious yet. That leads to failure. Consistency is what you’re shooting for here, so make the hurdle as low as possible.

And once you’re flossing one tooth consistently, try flossing two teeth…

(To learn what Harvard research says will make you happier and more successful, click here.)

Okay, keystone habits and minimum viable effort. Now how do you really make sure you actually follow through?
… keep reading the full & original article HERE